Keeping an acoustic guitar at a proper humidity level is critical for the long-term health of acoustic guitars. This is especially true in the cold winter weather, and worse if you live in a dry climate. If the guitar does not have enough humidity, the wood will dry out and possibly crack.
Guitars are simply wood and glue, so any change in temperature contributes to the expanding or contracting of the wood. Most experts agree that ideal humidity levels are between forty to fifty percent relative humidity, with a room temperature of 72 degrees.
So, what are the choices? Apart from using an effective guitar humidifier, I strongly urge that the guitar remain in its’ case when not in use.
Over the years I’ve experimented with several different guitar humidifiers. The Dampit has been around a longtime, but I’m bothered by the contact it has inside the body of the guitar. Even a drop of water on the inside of the guitar is not good.
Planet Waves makes a guitar humidifier that goes between the third and fourth strings of the guitar. It doesn’t touch the body of the guitar, but it’s difficult to judge when the inside sponge needs dampened, making humidification imprecise.
A home humidifier was not an option for me, so I continued to search for a good product. I stumbled across the Oasis guitar humidifier. A round cylinder is placed between the third and fourth strings, and held in place by a plastic crossbar. The greatest asset with this soundhole humidifier is that it shrinks up when it needs refilled, so it takes care of the guesswork. I use this humidifier on most of my guitars.
There’s one more option, which I use with my most expensive guitar. It’s the Planet Waves Humidipak. Leak proof packets go into two pouches that rest between the third and fourth strings. There’s also a pouch that holds a packet for the headstock area of the guitar case. This product works both ways; if the guitar needs humidity, the product provides it. If it’s a bit too humid, the Humidipak still works to maintain a forty-five degree relative humidity. When the packets gets hard, it’s time to replace them. It’s simple, effective, and leaves no guesswork.
Acoustic guitars need care in the summer as well to maintain the ideal humidity level. The use of a hygrometer helps to monitor these levels in the area you keep your guitar, whether it’s a closet, living room or bedroom. I do not recommend keeping guitars in the basement.
Remember also to allow your guitar to acclimate to sudden changes in temperature. Going from cold to a warm home can cause finish cracks if the guitar doesn’t have time to slowly adjust to the temperature change. Never put your guitar in the trunk of the car. Temperatures in the trunk of a car in summer or winter are too extreme for the guitar to handle. I don’t even leave my guitar in the backseat of my car, in any weather, unless it’s a quick trip to pick up one or two items at a store.
Take good care of your guitar and it will give you many years of enjoyment.